Feature: The Rebirth of the Hédas Quartier
Although it runs for almost 1km right through Pau's historic centre, the rue du Hédas is bafflingly easy to miss. For centuries, the creek that flowed here was used as a sewer, and it retained an air of ill repute right up through the 1950s. Then in 2016, the city launched a rejuvenation projection for this neglected corner of the city, and it was transformed into a sparkling new promenade. Bold, sculpturesque light installations were installed along the 800m lane, gardens and public spaces were added (including pétanque courts and a playground), and new businesses arrived. Today, it’s a fascinating place to explore, with a handful of eating and drinking spots, and surprising vestiges of the past: the fountain off place Récaborde was once the only source of water in Pau, and was used as a makeshift laundry well into the 20th century. Nearby, at No 20, a doorway beneath a lion sculpture marks the entrance to the home of Pau's last executioner. There are limited access points, though you will find stairs, a lift and slides down to the lane from place d'Espagne.